Labour councillor Matt Fry suspended as fraud investigation begins
A LABOUR councillor has been suspended amid allegations of fraud.
Matt Fry, Stoke-on-Trent City Council member for Weston Coyney has been suspended from his post with immediate effect after a police investigation began.
The Sentinel understands the inquiry is focussing on Mr Fry’s handling of public money.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “We have received an allegation of fraud which we are currently investigating.
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“No one has been arrested at this stage.”
Mr Fry, aged 31, who has sat on various council committees including the Staffordshire Fire Authority, was not available for comment last night.
The Stoke-on-Trent Labour Group refused to comment on the nature of the allegations, releasing a statement only to confirm Mr Fry had been suspended.
A spokesman for the group said: “We can confirm that Councillor Matt Fry has been suspended from holding office and representing the Labour Party at any level until the investigation is complete and the matter resolved.
“Suspension of a councillor is normal in these circumstances and it is not a comment on this investigation.”
The news has come as a surprise to colleagues and associates of Mr Fry, many of whom have praised his fund-raising for various good causes, including the Staffordshire Special Olympics.
Councillor Lee Wanger, who sat on the fire authority with Mr Fry, said he was surprised by the development.
The independent councillor said: “I don’t want to speculate about exactly what this could be about.
“He is a bit of a loner but a really nice bloke.
“He’s in an awkward position now where people are going to be asking questions and wondering. That’s going to be hard to live with.
“And if there’s anything I can help with then I will.”
Harry Pointon, an athletics coach who knew Mr Fry through their association with the Staffordshire Special Olympics, said: “He is full of enthusiasm and has done some great stuff as a fund-raiser.
“It wasn’t an official position but he did raise money.
“I believe councillors have money at their disposal to use.”
Sue Bourne, secretary of Weston Coyney Residents’ Association, said: “I have to say I have only met him once through my dealings with the residents’ association.
“I thought he was very young. He’s obviously inexperienced.
“He’s given the association some money from his grant.
“We got £300 which went towards setting up a fete.
“He was one of the members of the residents’ association but he didn’t come to meetings.
“I’ve communicated with him via email a bit more often.”
A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “City council officers are aware of this issue.
“We understand there is an on-going police investigation and it is not appropriate for us to comment any further at this stage.”